Chantal Akerman, in her installation, “From The East,” at the Jewish Museum, NYC, 2/21/97
Chantal Akerman, whose unexpected death last fall, a few days before her latest (and now last) film, the profound “No Home Movie,” had its U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival, is survived by a body of extraordinary work, that with its thematic, emotional and formal concerns, changed cinema. In tribute to Akerman, BAMcinématek, Film Forum, Anthology Film Archives and the Museum of the Moving Image have organized simultaneous programs of her films.
BAMcinématek’s series, “Chantal Akerman: Images Between the Images,” a comprehensive retrospective running through Sunday, May 1, opens on Friday, April 1 with the New York theatrical premiere of “No Home Movie.” (The film is also available tomorrow on Fandor.)
Shot mostly in her beloved mother’s apartment (but ranging widely, emotionally and historically), Akerman has described her intimate documentary as, “a film of love, a film about loss, sometimes funny, sometimes terrible. But viewed with an eye that keeps a respectful distance, I think. A film where a transmission occurs, discreetly, almost effortlessly, without pathos, in a kitchen in Brussels.”
A new restoration of “Jeanne Dielman, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” (1975) Akerman’s terrifying beautiful early masterpiece, starring the incomparable Delphine Seyrig, will open on Friday, May 1 at Film Forum. Marianne Lambert’s documentary, “I Don’t Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman,” which portrays her longtime colleague “as a nomad who sought an emotional home that eluded her,” plays through April 5. It screens with a new short film by Vivian Ostrovsky, “But Elsewhere is Always Better,” incorporating decades of her own footage of Akerman. Tickets for Lambert and Ostrovsky’s documentaries are free of charge, available at Film Forum’s box office on a first-come, first-served basis, day of show only.
The Museum of the Moving Image is showing “From the East,” a journey from “the end of summer to deepest winter, from East Germany, across Poland and the Baltics, to Moscow, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet bloc, ” on Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3.
“No Home Movie” and in its New York theatrical premiere run, “Là-Bas” (2006), which was filmed predominantly in an apartment where Akerman stayed in Tel Aviv, will be presented at the Anthology Film Archives from Friday, April 15 through Thursday, April 21. Film critic Amy Taubin wrote in Film Comment, “Before, after, and between the narrative feature films…that anchor her status as a world-class filmmaker and one of the most indispensable of her post-Godard generation, Akerman has made some 20 works (films, performances, gallery installations) whose basic form is the letter – sometimes written to her by another, or by her to another, but most often by and to herself…”Là-Bas” is both the most fragile and most powerful of these works.”
In a December 2015 piece (that functions as a eulogy) for the online film journal, Senses of Cinema, Vivian Ostrovsky, included a perfect quote, Akerman describing her work, “When people are enjoying a film they say ‘I didn’t see the time go by’… but I think that when time flies and you don’t see time passing by you are robbed of an hour and a half or two hours of your life. Because all you have in life is time… With my films you’re aware of every second passing through your body.”